Secretary Sebelius talks about affordable health care

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Uninsured Jacksonville residents can start shopping on the health insurance marketplace when it opens on October 1.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sat down for a one-on-one interview with First Coast News on Monday to talk about the Affordable Health Care Act and signing up for coverage.

There are 3,509,167 uninsured people who are eligible for health care coverage in Florida. Soon, residents will see huge push from several local agencies, including local health care providers, community outreach groups and churches, to educate people.

With his gloves on, William Jenkins geared up to clean a meeting room at the Sulzbacher Center. He and his buddy Jimmy Gaskins are giving back to a program they say has given them so much, including a place to lay their heads at night.

Just a couple of hours before, the room was jam packed with community stakeholders. They were all ears as Secretary Sebelius spoke about The Affordable Care Act, and what it means for the River City. Open Enrollment for those eligible in the Marketplace begins in just a couple of weeks, but not everyone will be able to benefit.

"I'm not insured," said Gaskins. "We just have to use what resources we can find. Sometimes it's kind of hard."

Gaskins is among the thousands of people who take advantage of the Sulzbacher's federal clinic, because he has no choice. They service about 200 people daily.

CEO Cindy Funkhouser is hopeful the legislature and Florida's governor will reconsider their decision not to expand the Medicaid program.

"So the people who are most vulnerable, the homeless, the poorest of the poor uninsured people here in Florida will not see any benefit," said Funkhouser.

We sat down with Secretary Sebelius for a quick break-down of the program.

"This is really for that 15 to 20 percent of the market that doesn't have coverage at all or don't have affordable coverage," said Secretary Sebelius. "They will have some new choices."

Sebelius says if you already have insurance you won't have to do a thing. But if you're ready to shop around, there will be more options available. Which, she said, is great for those who qualify. But as for folks like Gaskins, he said he feels left out in the cold.

Open enrollment will last for 6 months. A toll free number you can call for information in up to 150 languages is (800) 318-2596.


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